I’ve recently been seeing a trend on my social media; people are struggling with sleep. I struggle with sleeping myself and I’ve been researching ways to help with sleep so I thought I’d share them with you guys.
- Turn Off Your Mind
I know, this can be really difficult. You had a rough day and you’ve got a lot on your mind; it’s really hard to wind down and let go of your day. But, studies have shown that clearing your mind before bed helps promote a good night’s sleep.
Some ways that you can clear your mind would be to color in and adult coloring book, read a little bit of something that won’t stress you out like a good book (I recommend trying to avoid news articles and things that may stress you out), listen to calming music, meditate.
- Watch What You Eat Before Bed
Some studies have shown that going to bed hungry actually has a negative effect on sleep as well going to bed overly full (or stuffed). You don’t want to eat “heavy” foods or large meals before bed because they put your digestive system into overdrive and this could cause you to lose sleep. It can also good to have your last snack at least an hour before your bed time so you’re not going to bed completely full.
Certain foods contain something called Tryptophan which is an amino acid that works with your body to produce Serotonin. Serotonin helps you sleep and helps in stabilizing mood. The food to be shown with one of the highest levels of tryptophan is turkey! Turkey has been shown to cause drowsiness; that explains the Thanksgiving sleepiness now!
Almonds are also good for sleep because they contain magnesium, this is because magnesium has a relaxing effect on the body.
Bedtime Snack Ideas
- Turkey roll-ups: Take low-sodium nitrate-free turkey slices and roll them up with dill pickle slices or hummus- something for flavor that isn’t high in sodium. About 4 roll-ups should help aide in sleepiness!
- Yogurt with cherries, granola, and/or nuts: yogurt contains vitamin D and calcium which will help you fall and stay asleep. Cherries and walnuts contain melatonin which also helps with sleep. Granola contains carbohydrates as well as tryptophan. Adding almonds is also a good idea, they contain magnesium which helps with relaxation and ultimately sleep.
- English muffin with almond butter/peanut butter and banana slices: Again, almonds are high in magnesium which helps with sleep so this is why I recommend almond butter. However, using banana is just as good if you want to use regular peanut butter. Bananas are full of sleep-inducing carbohydrates and fat burning dietary fiber. They are also good for your heart!
Things to avoid before bed:
Nicotine and caffeine take a long time to work through the body (a few hours) and for many people the stimulating effects of these can prevent a quality night’s sleep or even prevent you from simply falling asleep.
Alcohol is another thing to try to avoid before bed. Alcohol has a drowsy affect for most people at first but as it works through your body it does the opposite and can disrupt your sleep later in the night.
- Watch What You Drink Before Bed
Many people (myself included) make late-night trips to the bathroom and by the time you get back to bed you may be too awake to fall right back to sleep.
A good tip is to try not to drink anything at least 2 hours before you go to bed. If you’re looking for something to drink before bed try cherry juice because cherries contain melatonin which will help regulate your sleep. Or try my personal favorite: Sleepy Time Tea it is caffeine free and contains chamomile, tilia flowers, valerian root, peppermint and lemongrass. All of these contain either some sort of calming effect or promote sleepiness. This is the brand that I prefer
- No Napping
I know, this is tough; especially when you didn’t sleep well the night before. This may seem obvious but the longer the nap the less likely you’ll sleep at night. So if you need to take a nap try to take it during midday and limit it to 30 minutes at most. If you do this closer to midday you’ll have the rest of the day to wear back down.
- Be Active!
Regular daily exercise has been shown to help people sleep better; just don’t do this right before bed because you’ll get a burst of energy from your workout.
If the only time you have to work out is at night try to do it 3-4 hours before your bedtime and if you’re going to be doing it closer to bedtime look into more “gentle” exercises like relaxing yoga.
Being in the light during the daytime and trying to obtain outdoor exercise helps to regulate your internal clock.
6. Turn Down The Lights
The blue glow that is emitted from screens such as your cell phone, television, and tablet can keep you awake this is one of the many reasons that pediatricians suggest that parents don’t allow their children to keep electronic devices in their bedrooms.
If you’re going to be using an electronic device you’ll want to see if it has a “night mode” or “night shift” setting that reduces the blue light and changes your screens temp to a warmer color.
iPhone’s have a “night shift” setting that can be found by swiping up on the bottom of your screen. You can also go to Setting >Display & Brightness >Night Shift. Here you can actually schedule when your phone automatically turns on night shift mode and how warm to set the color temp. It’s best to turn down the screen brightness and turn up the color temp. Personally I have mine set to automatically turn on at 10 pm,
If you have an android you can download an app called Night Mode which does the exact same thing as the iPhone’s Night Shift function.
I’ve also read that red lights help promote sleep. You can buy color changing light-bulbs and alarm clocks.
- Let’s Make Some Noise!
Okay, let’s not; especially if you’re trying to sleep…bad idea.
Using a fan on low, an air conditioner, or a noise machine can help drown out the noise going on outside your home or, if you’re like my family…drown out the noise of three elephants (aka Bella, Chloe, and Cleo our cats) running up and down your hallways at night.
These would be considered white noise so you could also download a white noise app. Studies have shown that one of the best noises to fall asleep to (unless it wakes your bladder back up) is the sounds of a waterfall.
Lavender oil has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure which then puts your body in a relaxed state. Lavender has also been shown to help people who suffer from insomnia; it helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Using a lavender scented linen spray is a great way to get that lavender scent before bed time. I personally use this linen spray from Paisley and Company but you can also make your own DIY lavender spray using witch hazel and lavender oil. When I do this I add a little lemon oil to mine.
Using magnesium oil also helps to relax your body and mind; just add a few dabs to your skin and your body will absorb it.
Another idea if you don’t really want to dab oil onto your skin or don’t want to spray your sheets you can get a diffuser and add a few drops of the oils to water. This diffuser turns off automatically so you can turn it on when you go to bed at night.